I dislike combo gadgets, and prefer tools that do one thing well instead of a dozen things poorly. But the Nomad Leather Wallet for iPhone does two things very well, and is as good-looking as it is useful. If you're looking for a slick way to carry your cards and cash, and charge your phone on the go, this wallet is the perfect balance of quality, style and utility.
Nomad, makers of the previously mentioned ChargeCard and the RoadTrip, are back with a more powerful, fully-integrated way to charge your phone on the go. They sent us one of their wallets to try out for a while, and I can honestly say I've found a combo gadget I really like. The wallet comes in two styles (slim and bi-fold) and is made from Horween leather that will take a serious beating over long-term use. The stitching used to construct the wallet is pre-stretched, beeswaxed linen thread from Fil Au Chinois of France, and is used for everything from horse saddles to fashion brands like Hermés. Basically, this wallet isn't going to fall apart anytime soon, and as it breaks in you're going to get a great rugged look.
The battery inside is a thin Panasonic 2400mAh lithium-ion. It uses an integrated Apple MFi certified Lightning cable to charge your phone (about 5cm long), and you recharge the built-in battery with the included standard Micro USB cable. The battery makes the wallet look thick at first, but once you fill it up with all of your cards and cash, you'll see that it's about as thick as a typical wallet. The picture above shows a side-by-side comparison of the Nomad Wallets (on bottom), a typical leather wallet and a leather wallet/iPhone combo case.
Nomad suggests you'll get a full charge for the iPhone 6s from the battery, and my own experience certainly backs up that claim. I let my iPhone drop to 50 per cent charge, then I set out to only use the wallet's battery for charging to see how long I could keep my phone going. I was able to keep my phone above 20 per cent and close to 50 per cent for four full days with regular use (checking email, using social networks, reading news, listening to Spotify and watching the occasional YouTube video) before I drained the Nomad wallet's battery — and I'm using an iPhone 6s+, not a regular 6s. But in fairness, I keep my iPhone's screen brightness low and I'm not staring at it all day. Plus, both my iPhone and Nomad wallet are new, so their batteries are fresh and full of life. I imagine the battery's charging capacity will diminish over time, but this is definitely not an emergency-only type of portable charger. This battery packs enough juice to separate itself from other similar card-style batteries out there.
The Nomad wallets are also lined with an RFID-blocking layer to keep your RFID-enabled credit cards and key cards safe. The jury is still out on whether RFID-blocking is actually necessary, but it's nice to have anyway. The blocking mesh is hidden underneath the leather so it doesn't show and adds very little bulk to the wallet.
Best of all, the Nomad Wallet doesn't look unprofessional, or something I wouldn't want to pull out of a nice suit. It's not bulky, covered in lights or whimsical — just slim, classy leather. You wouldn't even know it's actually a battery unless you saw me charging my phone with it. I carried it around with my friends and family for days, conspicuously placing it in front of me on the table wherever we were, and nobody noticed the battery or charging cable. It wasn't until I plugged in my iPhone 6s+ at a busy sports bar that my friends all set down their beers in bewilderment and asked if my wallet was charging my phone.
I'm not a fashion guru by any means, but I do like things that look nice, and I'm a proponent of paying a little more for materials that will last. So the Nomad Wallet's price tag, $US120 ($163) for the slim model and $US150 ($204) for the bi-fold model, might seem steep, but you're definitely getting what you pay for. Besides, a nice, handmade leather wallet would run you around $140 anyway, and that's without being able to charge your phone. It's nice to have both options in one package.